An Insider’s Guide to Tri-Rail From Its Leader

A new rail travel option emerges.

David Dech is at the throttle as Tri-Rail celebrates the opening of its Miami service and plans for the future. The executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, parent of Tri-Rail, is a fourth-generation railroader who has been a brakeman, switchman and locomotive engineer. Before joining the SFRTA in 2022, he was vice president of rail operations for Capital Metro in Austin, Texas.

Dech (pronounced like “deck”) seems at home with a desk at the Pompano Beach Tri-Rail headquarters. He has a view out the window of trains pulling into the station next door and faces a row of real-time monitors showing any trains in the system—whether Tri-Rail, Brightline, Amtrak, CSX freight or FEC freight.

The new downtown MiamiCentral station, which also includes the Brightline platforms, is a capstone in South Florida’s mass transit network.

Brightline can now take you all the way to Orlando with stops in Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. Tri-Rail has 18 stops all the way to West Palm Beach.

Instead of driving down I-95, which parallels most of Tri-Rail’s route, you can take trains to downtown Miami and walk to attractions, such as Miami Worldcenter, HistoryMiami Museum, the Pérez Art Museum, the Kaseya Center, Bayside, the Olympia Theater and the Frost Science Museum, Planetarium and Aquarium.

MiamiCentral is also close to Metrorail and Metromover stops. The latter is great if you don’t want to walk around downtown and offers a spectacular view as you cross over the Miami River to the Brickell area. Brickell has an array of bars, restaurants and shops, including Brickell City Centre and Mary Brickell Village.

Dech gave further insights by answering a few more questions.

David Dech

What’s something about Tri-Rail that most people don’t know?

I’m still amazed how many people don’t know how easy it is to get to airports. We have a bus shuttle at FLL every 15 mins. In Miami, we take you right in and you are at the airport. We have a ride partnership at Palm Beach International Airport.

If you are a foodie, what stop would you recommend?

If you get into Palm Beach County, you can take your pick. We have help with first mile last mile [the ride between stations and final destinations].

Dada in Delray Beach is one of the favorites. I also like to find breweries, such as Steam Horse Brewing Co. in West Palm Beach and SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach. My wife and I took one of the very first trains going to Miami Central. We went to a concert down there and had something to eat.

(For details on how you can get Uber and taxi discounts plus shuttles, visit www.tri-rail.com/pages/view/ride-partners)

What’s your favorite stop on the Tri-Rail system?

One of my favorites is Opa-locka because the whole area is so cool—all the Moorish architecture. [Look for the Opa-locka Thematic Resource Area on Wikipedia for a list of buildings.]

How often do you get to ride?

I ride it almost every day. I commute. They like to keep my calendar very busy. This is what happens when I have spare time. (He pulls out a notebook filled with notes on the trips he takes while working.)

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